The comparative report “democratic innovation and participatory democracy in the alpine area” constitutes one of the main outputs of the Alpine Space Project “Governance and Youth in the Alps” (GaYA). It provides a portrait of the legal framework of democratic innovation in the Alpine States and Regions and maps empirical trends by collecting good examples of and statements on participatory democracy implemented in the Alpine region, moving from the belief that the implementation of innovative forms of governance has great potential in terms of more sustainable and legitimate decision-making.
This report is the result of several months of research. It has been conducted in the context of a new phenomenon that is developing as a response to the crisis that has recently been affecting representative democracy, namely that of participatory democracy. In particular, the aim of the report is to provide information about the legal framework of participatory democracy and to collect good examples of innovative experience of participatory democracy within the Alpine Region. This aim moves from the awareness that the territories of the Alpine area share common features. In this sense, the elaboration of a cognitive tool that enhances the dialogue between different institutions can be significantly useful for the development of new democratic instruments. The report forwards on two different fronts: In the first part, it provides a useful overview of national and regional legal sources that regulate or underpin manifestations of participatory democracy; while in the second part, it gives evidence on both innovative practices implemented in the Alpine Space, and on participation charters and guidelines. The study shows that all constitutive elements of participatory democracy process are interconnected and interrelated, and all concerned entities jointly influence the institutional yield of participatory democracy. Hence, the implementation of participatory processes in the context of the adoption of public decisions within Alpine territorial entities profoundly affects the political dynamics of a community.